May 28, 2019

Soy Sauce Marinated Crab 醬油醃蟹

crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese
By Published: 2019-05-28
This marinated crab dish is SO AMAZING!  Crazy amazing!  Super duper seafood delight-O with stars bursting in the sky amazing!  

I've been wanting to make it this for ever so long ever since I heard my mother 媽媽 reminisce how her mother made this dish frequently for the family when she was a child growing up in Zhejiang 浙江.  They made their marinated crab quite simply by soaking in rice wine and I remember would that even work?  

Well, that crabby thought floated around in my head for a long time until I recently watched the Netflix food show 'Flavorful Origins' and had my mind totally blown away by...well, everything that food show had to say really.  If you love Chinese food, you've got to check that show out...I think I watched it 3 times in a row!  

Anyways, back to crabs, this Soy Sauce Marinated Crab is inspired by the 'Marinated Crab' episode (drooling!) and the result is raw crab meat and roe completely transformed into something succulent, meltingly tender and mindblowingly TASTY!

crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese

We went to find our crab at the wet market where they always have a fabulous selection of fresh seafood.  For this dish the crab must be live.  We went for the Mud Crab, or 青蟹, for its plentiful tender sweet meat.  Specifically a female Mud Crab, also known as 膏蟹, for its abundant, beautiful orange roe.

To check the sex look on the bottom side of the crab for the 'apron' which will be in the shape of a dome for a female and the shape of a tower for a male.  Other crabs such as the Three Spot Swimming Crab 三點蟹 or the Flower Crab 花蟹 would be good for this pickled crab dish as well.

Keep in mind that this dish uses raw crab, marinated, yes, but still it's not exactly cooked.  So be sure to find a good clean source for your live crabs.  And give the crab a really good scrubbing at home.

crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese
crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese

To make the aromatic marinating bath, garlic, ginger, chilies, cilantro, spring onion and spices are minced and added to a soy sauce rice wine mixture.  The chilies are a nice touch that give an extra flavor layer.  If you like it hot add even more chilies.  You can even switch up the spice combination to make a special blend.

crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese

The procedure itself is surprisingly simple: the crabs are covered with the marinade and refrigerated for 24 hours and then it's ready to eat.  The marinated crab is then opened, quartered and lightly cracked to allow access to the tender aromatic meat inside.  

And what meat that is!  An absolute revelation in taste and texture for the seafood lover!  Like nothing else, one must try it to experience it.  And the crab flesh...soft, jellied textured and deeply infused with flavors from the marinade and the crab roe...transformed to a intense gorgeous red...I'm getting a little tear in my eye just thinking about how yummy it was.  

It was our first time to try this dish and we devoured the succulent tender aromatic meat with absolute glee and fervor...seafood good...

So what are you seafood lovers waiting for?  Go find yourself some fresh crabs!  May to October is the season for the roe crab so it's the perfect time to get crabby! 

Afternote: An interesting lesson learned from our experience is that you probably should serve this marinated crab dish with a 'heaty' food like hot ginger and honey tea.  Crab is considered to be a very 'cooling' type of food in Chinese medicine, and after our gorgeous pickled crab feast all of us had the aftereffect of slightly sore throats.  

Sweet ginger tea, being a 'heaty' type of food, will balance out the cooling of the crab and enhance the pleasure of the seafood feast.

crab, marinated, pickled, recipe, soy sauce, 醃蟹, 醬油, chinese
Soy Sauce Marinated Crab Recipe
Prep time: Cooking time:



Using a small toothbrush, scrub clean the crab's body.  Put crabs in freezer for 5 mins to put them to sleep.

Mix the soy sauce, rice wine,  cilantro, garlic, chilies, sugar and ginger together.  Put crabs in a container that can fit them flat, side by side.  Pour in the soy sauce marinade, making sure that the crabs are completely immersed in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

To serve:  Pull the crab top shell up and off.  Place on chopping board with inside facing up.  Remove by pulling and discard the gills on each side of crab.  Pull off the claws and use back of cleaver to lightly crack in order for easier access to the meat inside.

Use cleaver to cut the body in half and then chop each half into two or three pieces, depending on the size of the crab.  Arrange all pieces on serving plate, drizzle a bit of the marinade over and serve...yum!

Tip: Don't forget to get out the handy crab picker tools so you can get to every last bit of delicious meat.



  1. Can this be made with blue crab? I follow this recipe but it didn’t seem like there’s enough liquid to completely immerse them. Thanks!

    1. Hi KDuB - yes you can use any type of crab you like but it must be very fresh. The crabs must be immersed in the marinade so make more if needed. ~ellen

  2. Hello ellen! i hope you can check this out and reply. I was just wondering mud crab has a bit thick skin for sauce to be absorbed to crab flesh. So do you make a crack for it to be easliy seasoned? and if you do, for how much should i have to crack the crab? thank you.

  3. Hi- we actually did crack the crab but only after the marination. The crabs are live and so soak in the sauce by themselves. The crack is just for easier access to meat while eating.~😊ellen